Woke Baby (Mahogany L. Browne)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Woke Baby, written by Mahogany L. Browne and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, a baby book that aims to empower the youngest of bookworms.

A tiny baby wakes in their crib, peeking open their eye before the sun has even risen (the baby’s gender is kept ambiguous throughout). The narrator muses on each motion of waking the baby goes through, and the promise of power it shows: stretching out with fists raised to represent the strength of a panther, eyes open, wide and bright and seeing; feet kicking through glass ceilings, and hands reaching for what is theirs. Woke Baby is here, with limitless promise and possibility, and ready to take on the world.

I admit, on my first read-through of this book, I didn’t get it – tying the actions of a waking baby to the symbols and mores of social activism seemed a bit of a stretch. However, by the second time, I began to understand. I think a universal concern for parents is bringing a child into the world that seems to have so many problems, so much that is going wrong and so much that needs to be fixed; that baby needs to be protected from. This story challenges both the adult and little one to look at it a different way, positing that our power and capacity for change is innate, that it’s in every movement and gesture from the time we first raise our first, babble our first thoughts, and open our eyes – “woke” to the world around us. It’s a very subtle but ultimately encouraging and empowering message for little ones. The art is kept simple, using a limited color palette and a command of light and shadow to keep the titular baby as the visual focus. The length was fine for teeny tiny bookworms, and JJ enjoyed it as well. A minimalist book that inspires complex consideration, and very nicely done. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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